J.R. Smith's Meltdown And An Overturned Charge Call Provides The Worst Way For LeBron James To Lose

"The conundrum is that LeBron James deserves better. Yet, JR Smith is a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers because of LeBron James." -- Martin Weiss

Deserve is the one of the worst crutches sports fans use in their arguments, and it's one that hardly holds weight. Yet, it's hard to feel anything but that after watching the performance of LeBron James in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. 51 points. 8 rebounds. 8 assists. Deep threes. Defensive excellence. It was a masterclass put on by The King.

So let's not call it deserve. Instead, let's recognize this moment and let it serve as a reminder of how great the Golden State Warriors truly are. Because if a team of mere mortals were placed against the Cavaliers, we never get to see LeBron's 51 in Oakland. That's what excellence brings out, more excellence.

Of course, excellence can also bring out the dark side. A dark side so cruel, so evil, that the scenario that played out in Oracle Arena in Game 1 is so diabolical that Stephen King couldn't concoct a horror flick as blood curdling.

First, it was the charge call on Kevin Durant heard 'round the world that was then reversed and called a block on LeBron James.

If you're a Cavaliers fan, you're apoplectic that a play could be reviewed for such a reason, and then the call is changed for something that wasn't called. LeBron wasn't near the restricted area, and yet because there was doubt in the mind of the referees, they were allowed to review the call. That review led to the change in the call.

If you're a Warriors fan, the right call was made. No matter the process it took to get to that point.

Believe it or not, but calls have been reviewed and changed, Kevin Durant stated as such during his post-game presser. However, to have that process unfurl on the NBA's biggest stage was a shock to the system. It's something we'll talk about forever, and it wasn't the craziest moment of the night...

...as someone needed to hold JR Smith's beer.

"You never go full Henny JR, and he went full Henny JR." -- Justin Tinsley

The history books will only tell the tale of the Warriors securing a Game 1 victory by the score of 124-114. Golden State's ability to turn it on in the third quarter overtime was truly overkill. JR Smith milked the clock and hit the QB kneel on the Cavs chances to steal the opening game of the series. Steph Curry flashed his usual brilliance, Klay Thompson reminded us that he's one of the real ironmen of our time, and Kevin Durant hit critical free throws during the tensest of moments.

Let it forever be stated that the following things happened in the closing moments of the fourth quarter:

  • LeBron’s strip on Kevin Durant (called foul)
  • Kevon Looney’s strip (missed foul) on LeBron
  • Kevin Durant’s charge overturned
  • LeBron James not earning an and-1 with :32 on a made layup
Charge or block? (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

And yet, this game will be remembered for the following things instead:

  • No charge/block call will be discussed more in our lifetime than LeBron's read on Durant
  • George Hill missed a free throw to possibly secure Game 1 for Cleveland
  • JR Smith securing the rebound over Kevin Durant
  • JR Smith not knowing the score
  • JR Smith saying he knew the score after the fact
  • Tristan Thompson really wanted the smoke with Draymond Green
  • Steph Curry and Klay Thompson had plenty to say to LeBron James in overtime
  • Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson could possibly face punishment (coming off the bench, flagrant two foul) in the series

Narratives and legacies will forever dominate our discussions, but for one night, when Betway Sports suggested that Cleveland would get caught in an avalanche from the Warriors...we got four quarters of chaos, excellence and confusion.

In his post-game comments LeBron stated, "Tonight we played as well as we have all postseason." It could be stated that this is LeBron's greatest finals performance. It was not enough. It's never enough, because to beat the best team, you must be more than perfect...you must bend the margins and the realities of what basketball truly is, and then you need some luck too.

As luck would have it, LeBron James wanted JR Smith on his team when his franchise made a deal with the New York Knicks. When no one wanted JR, LeBron saw what could be the best in the mercurial gunslinger. Luck made things even on Thursday night, and LeBron could only stand as a witness and a supporter of Smith, when the unexplainable happened in the final 4.5 seconds of the fourth quarter of Game 1.

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